Memphis family creates at-home graduation ceremony for Xavier grad

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Students across the country are having once-in-a-lifetime memories taken from them by the COVID-19 pandemic, but one Shelby County father made sure his daughter was allowed her graduation dream.

When Torrence Burson’s daughter Gabrielle got the news that her graduation at Xavier University was cancelled, she was heartbroken.

So Torrence took the commencement into his own hands.

He rented a stage, a podium and other graduation equipment from a local convention center, and the family hosted their own private graduation.

The Bursons’ ceremony included the national anthem, an honorary speaker, and of course his daughter walking across the stage.

Torrence said his daughter was beyond grateful.

“She said, ‘Dad, when I first came out, I walked out, and I looked at it,’ she said, ‘I just had to hold back my tears,'” Torrence said. “She said it was overwhelming.”

Gabrielle is studying to be an epidemiologist to help fight diseases like COVID-19 in the future.

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